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Za(upam) si – I trust (dare) myself | Civic Europe
Health, Youth participation and empowerment

Za(upam) si – I trust (dare) myself

People who dare (upam si) to go on a journey of personal growth are immensely brave, and we encourage cultivating their sense of security, trust (zaupam si), self-respect and responsibility.


Who is behind this?

Sara Marija Širnik

Zavod Škatlica


Who is joining forces?

National Youth Council of Slovenia



Idea pitch

There is little long-term oriented psychological support available to young people with their mental health issues, especially to those from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. We want to address this on all levels – by supporting youth with accessible counselling, activating young mental health professionals, engaging social media and digital spaces, and reaching out to the public and decision-makers, creating an innovation hub for peer-to-peer mental health support.

Where will your project idea take place?

Online & in each of the 5 provinces across Slovenia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The lack of (systemic) support for mental health issues of young people in Slovenia. There are no laws governing psychology or psychotherapy in Slovenia, psychotherapy is not recognised as a profession (and not supported by the national health insurance) and can only be conducted by expensive private practitioners. On average, a student must work 30 hours to afford 1 hour of psychotherapy. The waiting line for a clinical psychologist is about 6-12 months. Stigmatisation of mental health is slowly disappearing, at least in urban areas, as mental health has become the 'next big thing' in the media narrative, but there is strong stigmatisation of mental health SUPPORT, as youth regard psychologists and psychotherapists as 'those for crazy people' (we’ve asked).

Who are you doing it for?

Our target group are young people aged 15-29, especially those affected most by COVID-19, from rural areas and underserved communities. Research shows that the impact of the public health crisis disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, such as youth in the school system, drop-outs, unemployed, and youth from marginalised backgrounds. Last year, the number of calls from youth aged 19+ to the emergency helpline ‘TOM telefon’ went up for 78%. Research shows that during the pandemic, 89% students have faced anxiety and depression and 24% - one in four - have thought of suicide. Psychologists report higher rates of depression, suicide attempts, family violence. Even without the crisis, Slovenia ranks 13th in suicide rate per country.

How do you plan to get there?

We will launch an open call for students of mental health professions to form a team of young people who will implement the main activities, and organise a motivational team-building weekend. An action plan will be put in place with key targets, dates and responsibilities.

The students will conduct 600 hours of online peer-to-peer psychological counselling under supervision with youth with mental issues who can’t afford mental health support.

The team will create freely available materials to support more young people; writing articles on mental health support, an open online call for youth to share their own anonymous stories, TikTok videos on self-help techniques.

5 events where youth will formulate their own plan of action for policymakers for tackling systemic mental health issues (design thinking and youth dialogue methods). The action plans will be combined into policy recommendations that we will send to policymakers in an open letter, address them to the media to build political pressure, and print out Loesje-inspired posters in larger cities.

Regular check-ins on the action plan, 1 participant evaluation on the impact of peer-to-peer counselling on youth, evaluation and celebration.

What are the expected results?

- 20 young mental health experts equipped with project management, advocacy, peer-to-peer support, communication and organisation skills
- 100 youth with fewer opportunities directly supported with their mental health issues
- 1000 views of youth equipped for self-help and peer-help with mental health issues through our online knowledge base
- the wider youth are aware with the help of posters where to turn for help; we’ll hand out at least 200 posters
- 1 policy recommendation paper with key points is passed on to politicians and young people form an action plan for its implementation
- 50+ young people experience dialogue with decision-makers and improve their active citizenship and participation competences

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

It will encourage mental health students to contribute to the shaping of policies in their field in order to improve the quality of life of youth; give them a voice in a dialogue with decision-makers, and equip them with experience in articulating relevant mental health issues. By counselling, young people will learn how to accept and emphatically respond to issues of others. Many social problems stem from a lack of empathy, acceptance, and sound judgment, often because of personal problems and an inability to deal with them. Through counselling, we learn to accept ourselves and others. face difficult realities, learn patience, hope, and resilience. Positive change in the individual also has a direct impact on the wider environment, affecting positive changes in social factors of society.

Why is this idea important to you?

Our mission has always been to use our personal skills to contribute to a better society; we want to live in a world where mental health support is accessible to all. The team consists of Sara, the director of Zavod Škatlica, who supports the student team with project management, Eva, a psychology and biopsychology master’s graduate specializing in systemic psychotherapy and our leading counsellor, a team of 8 mental health students interested in working with young people and passionate about psychoeducating the society about mental health and mental health issues, and the team of the National Youth Council - president, general secretary and vice-president for sustainable development - supporting the advocacy part of the project.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 34600,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

- team-building: 3000
- psychological counselling: 18000
- counselling supervision: 6000
- knowledge base: 2000 (1 online article, 4 social media posts, and 2 TikTok videos per month)
- 5 events with young people: 3000
- 1 policy recommendations paper: 200
- printing costs for posters: 200
- 1 project evaluation paper based on qualitative research methods with counselling participants: 1000
- celebration event with the team: 100
- project management costs: 2000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would love to hear about your ideas how to successfully run advocacy campaigns, especially how to put political pressure on decision-makers and engage the public to take a role of ‘spokesperson’. Besides that, an good practices from your own communities would be very welcome! And cookies! :))





Idea created on April 26, 2021

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